Pope Francis Reverts to Pastoral Staff of Paul VI

Francis took possession of the Cathedral of John Lateran as Bishop of the Diocese of Rome this morning.

Keen observers have noted that he is using the contemporary pastoral staff (ferula) used by Paul VI and John Paul II:

In 2008 Pope Benedict had revived the staff of Pius XI and Pius XII (right below), and then in 2009 he received a new golden staff. Francis has shelved all this and taken up the earlier, contemporary one. This is probably not that important, taken by itself. But it is striking that Francis is not shy about undoing or rejecting so many of the symbolic hallmarks of his immediate predecessor.

72 comments

  1. Francis is getting his money’s worth out of his vestments, and GM has sure cut down on the man-lace. Ah the joys of the simple things in life!

  2. I don’t see why he needs one at all. If he needs a walking stick, why not use a cane like normal people do?

    1. Ziegler If he needs a walking stick, why not use a cane like normal people do?

      Walking sticks and canes can serve very different purposes.

      Canes are often used when people need support because one leg is weaker than the other. There is an art to sizing and using them for this purpose.

      On the other hand walking sticks are often useful to improve balance in a variety of situations by providing an additional source of information (or even two) for one’s brain. Balance is processed from information provided to the brain from the feet, the eyes and the inner ear.

      I have quite a collection of walking sticks, find them very helpful, and get a lot of compliments about them. People open doors and make way for me. Some of the larger heavier ones that I use to walk in the park are rather intimidating. I use smaller size ones (50 or so inches) for indoor places.

      http://www.brazos-walking-sticks.com/categories/Walking-Sticks/

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #8:

        Forgive my ignorance of mobility aids, no insult was meant. But then I must ask whether the papal farula is intended as a walking stick or a cane, as per your definitions?

      2. @Jonathan Ziegler – comment #15:

        I would call it, along with a crosier (shepherd’s staff), a form of ecclesiastical walking stick. Walking sticks have taken a great variety of practical forms, including offensive and defensive weapons (e.g. concealed swords). Both walking sticks and canes have also become fashion and status items at certain times and places.

        Perhaps a way of thinking of walking sticks in a more spiritual way is to think of them as a sign of being a pilgrim. Francis when he appeared on the balcony talked about our journey together. Ignatius in his autobiography referred to himself as the Pilgrim.

  3. Old people sometimes (!) remember long-ago things. I remember the common talk (was it from a papal speech?), that the former Cardinal Montini had said he chose the papal name Paul because he intended to be another “apostle to the nations” (John XXIII had taken the first tentative “journey” outside Rome to the shrine at Loreto and was said to be thinking of going to Lourdes, except that his health was rapidly deteriorating). I also remember hearing that Pope Paul further said that, like his namesake, he intended “to proclaim only Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2) and had asked that the papal crosier be designed with that theme in mind. At least I remember hearing that way back when . . . Such a message would seem to fit in well with Pope Francis’ continually repeated message about the mercy of God in Christ. Especially today’s very beautiful homily. (And the square in front of the Lateran was rededicated today, named now for Blessed John Paul II who used that staff – or a replica of it – after Paul VI).

  4. The silver crucifix staff is a welcome restoration; the gold staffs preferred by Pope Benedict, especially the first one he chose, too nearly resembled processional crosses and looked a bit odd being carried as pastoral staffs for that reason. Additionally, they were both rather generic-looking.

    The familiar silver staff designed originally for Pope Paul, on the other hand, became iconic during the pontificate of John Paul II and is now instantly and globally recognizable as a cherished symbol of the contemporary papacy.

    Of course, the extreme traditionalists will foam at the mouth over this, but as they are in the habit of foaming at the mouth over anything that appeared on the scene after about 1962, that’s to be expected. Still, for some reason, this staff is particularly irksome to them and has become the subject of bizarre conspiracy theories.

    Glad as I am to see the familiar papal staff restored, I’m still hopeful that Pope Francis will have a unique pastoral staff commissioned for his use.

    1. @James Murphy – comment #5:
      Yes, I noticed the change immediately. And welcomed it because it hansom. But I am more concerned about the staff he will gather around him. The two episcopal appointments this morning, with their ties to Lincoln, NE, are disconcerting.

      1. @Barry Moorhead – comment #36: Appointments will likely reflect legacy ternas, members of the Congregation of Bishops and nuncios for a considerable time to come; especially if Pope Francis feels he has to rely more on those who know the ground better in the Anglosphere.

      2. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #37:
        These are appointments which were “in the can” long before Francis came on the scene. My guess is that Cdl. Oulette presented them to him in a regular meeting and Francis gave the green light. Bishop Jackels, though from Lincoln, is not a carbon copy of Bruskewicz. Wichita might be termed a center right diocese, but there is only one parish with a weekly Latin Mass. I think it will be a while before whatever guidance he offers to papal nuncios and the congregation of bishops will take effect. Pope Benedict’s American appointments included numerous ones with which progressives are plenty happy. Sure there were Cordileone, Vasa, and Sample, but they’re the only three ROTR types I can think of, offhand.

  5. Interesting trivial note: when Pope Francis granted a blessing from the loggia at the front of the Lateran archbasilica, he did so not only sans mozzetta, but sans stole and sans zucchetto (which had blown off as he entered the loggia).

  6. It is also interesting to note that no one seems to notice that the Holy Father continues to distribute Holy Communion to the primary deacons of the Mass as they KNEEL before him and His Holiness does so by way of INTINCTION. Also, all of the concelebrating bishops approach the altar to take the host from a separate paten and INTINCT the Host into the Precious Blood. There is no drinking whatsoever from the common chalice. The hosts aren’t passed to the concelebrants during the Agnus Dei either, the Holy Father receives first. Nor does the Holy Father distribute Holy Communion to anyone else but these deacons.
    But another thing that no one seems to comment on is the use of deacons to distribute Holy Communion. At the Enthronement Mass today, it appears that every deacon in Rome, permanent or otherwise were the only ones distributing to the congregation including the cardinals, bishops and priests not concelebrating but in choir dress and these prelates remained kneeling to receive the Host. Interesting, no? But more interesting is that no one seems to comment on these things here. Peculiar, no?

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #7:
      Fr. Allan, I would guess that the Pope is used to distributing Communion only under one kind, which seems to be the usual practice in most of South America/Africa/Asia – and consequently, the kneeling+intinction comes from the MC. I would expect that Francis, being a little unused to the ‘mechanics’ of Papal Masses, expresses his preferences in things that directly affect him, and (at least, for now) doesn’t want to interfere too much in everything else. Maybe the Pope approves, maybe he is ambivalent and couldn’t care whether people drink or intinct…..I suppose we shall see eventually.

    2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #7:
      Hmmm Alan, I think you might be over-pushing your arguments. I also watched the Easter video ceremonies. Here are my thoughts about Francis’ use of deacons and the distribution of Communion mostly from the Easter Vigil Mass:

      1. Francis is making much more use of deacons during the celebrations and he also wore a deacons stole during the foot washing. I wonder where this strengthening of the deaconate visibility is going? I’m getting ideas and I’m not sure you’ll approve!
      2.There were cardinal deacons at both palm sunday and easter vigil (almost) next to the pope – except for the MCs. They looked redundant, especially since there were many regular deacons (ie more than 2, probably around 5) at all the ceremonies. One of the cardinal deacons got disorientated during the altar incensing walkaround so not much assistance to anyone really. Maybe if regular/arch deacons can become cardinals at a future time then this role could be restored but at the moment looks an historical anomaly.
      3. Communion by intinction kneeling was given to deacons (at the presider’s side of the altar) by the pope. He then returned to the chair (on the people’s side) where he gave communion standing to the vimps and a handful of lay persons including one woman – readers I think. Not sure if it was in the hand or tongue because of camera angles but I think at least one received in the hand. No communion plates used.
      4. The pope didn’t distribute communion to the general congregation which appears to be established practice now. Many deacons and priests distributing in the basilica, all to people standing and many in the hand. There were NOT kneelers used in the centre. Station points were to the side and at various seating blocks.

      I don’t think what I saw follows the line of what you’re advocating. It seems to me that Francis is ‘diluting’ some of Benedict/Marini II’s practices so that there is greater tolerance towards how communion is distributed.

  7. Father
    Private Eye magazine has pictures of popes Francis and Benedict side by side comparing their clothes. The obsessive attention devoted to the differences in style of the two popes risks ridicule on us all.

  8. When I read the headline, my first reaction was, “Aren’t those people pretty old by now?”

  9. How did we go from the reintroduction of the fanon to the return of the Paul VI staff in only 6 months? All of this just brings home how arbitrary these choices are.

      1. @Charles Culbreth – comment #19:
        Mon ami Charles, with your astute and keen observation skills you are actually asking me that question? Must be a rhetorical question or a trap:)

      2. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #31:
        I’m happy to be among you as friend, Dr. Dale! In all sincerity and in an effort to listen, my question was neither rhetorical nor trap. I’m hoping for your take ala Mr. Johnson (26) and Mr. Cedrone (30.)
        BTW, my wife and I have always loved this particular staff and its gravitas.

  10. I am rather amused that an object, Paul VI’s staff, that dates back half a century is being described as “contemporary”.

      1. @Sean Whelan – comment #24:
        By that measure, Sean, Pope Benedict was being “contemporary” when he reached back fifty years to use a ferula that had been used by one of his predecessors.

        Or has the word “contemporary” come to refer to a dated artistic style that was current in the mid-twentieth century?

  11. Caution should be used concerning observations of so called liturgical innovations of Pope Francis. Too many practices are being called innovations which are simply the normal papal liturgical practices. For instance the normal communion of concelebrating cardinals has been self intinction for some time. Both Benedict and Francis have given communion by intinction at papal masses. What is instructive is actually comparing videos of similar masses. There have been a few changes. To my mind, the most significant have been the shortening of the procession of gifts to two people, the pope not giving communion to a select group of laity, and Francis preaching from a lectern at the chair. As to papal staffs – Both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict used their predecessors staff for a period of time and then I am sure will settle on one they are comfortable with. Every Bishop has their own preferences. (I frankly think both the Paul VI’s staff and Pope Benedict’s are well designed and have liturgical and symbolic merit) Some choices of the Pope will have symbolic meaning, but I think it is too early to tell. The left and the right are going crazy over the choices. More important is the content of the Pope’s teaching.

    1. @Jim Johnson – comment #26:
      His preaching is very Christocentric, practical and down to earth touching the heart more than the intellect. I appreciate too that he has not “deified” Vatican II . I’m not sure he’s even referenced it on this it’s 50th anniversary. It is much better to hear about the Blessed Trinity and how He by His grace helps us respond to Him rather than hearing about the glories of Vatican II documents or deliberations. As for Pope Francis “art of celebrating” the Mass, it is noble, simple and pious. Apart from his inability to sing and his 1970’s theology of unadorned vestments and iconoclastic, puritanical simplicity in their regard, the essentials of his liturgies shine forth, meaning the vertical not undermined by the hyper-horizontal or embellished with too much “icing.”

      1. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #27:
        And then he has these things in his favour:

        1) He is far too busy to comment on blogs about you

        2) He would never put anyone down with perjoratives like those with which your comments are laced.

        You’re becoming as caustic and ridiculous as John Zuhlsdorf – everything but the Amazon wishlist!

      2. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #27:
        Thanks, Chris – sad, VII continues to be his bête noir. Some telling remarks from MSW:

        http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/christian-conservatives-secularism

        Key points that pertain to Allan:

        – “If the Church goes out to the slums of the world and encounters the marginalized, secularism will not stand a prayer, so to speak. And, someday, and I say this with hope not viciousness, I hope that conservative Catholics like Arroyo (or Allan) and Buchanan will recognize how far down the slope of secularism their worldview already is, and that the recognition will come in time for them to do penance for abetting the ACLU, however unwittingly, in reducing the Savior and His work to a kind of bumper sticker slogan (hyper-horizontal or iconoclastic/puritanical) that will save no one’s soul and inspire no one’s faith. It only creates a convenient boogeyman who, like all boogeyman, serves one purpose and one only: To keep us from the necessary self-reflection on our complicity in the crimes we decry”

  12. I have been amazed and inspired by our new Holy Father. His model of ministry strikes me as authentic servant-leadership, refocused on core Gospel messages while not creating rupture with his immediate predecessors.

    For me, the pastoral staff issue is best seen in that context. Before Mass yesterday, a corner of the piazza in front of the Lateran Basilica was named for Pope John Paul II. I suspect that Pope Francis both prefers the less elaborate style of the Paul VI staff and was honoring the memory of John Paul II by using the same staff he did.

    I see similar themes in the Pope’s other choices. It appears to my eye that he has worn the same vestment at his Installation Mass, Easter Sunday Mass, and now the Mass at the Lateran. It’s possible that the vestment has personal significance to him. However, it’s more likely that the Pope’s focus on the gospel message counsels him against expending resources on an elaborate liturgical wardrobe. Descriptions like “iconoclastic” and “puritanical” are more about taste than anything else. The Holy Father has a larger lesson to us, which is both about liturgy and not about liturgy.

    1. @Michael Cedrone – comment #31: Surely the Vatican’s sacristies are overflowing with vestments already. I’m sure Pope Francis can wear many different miters and chasubles without having to buy new ones.

      I’m also sure that the wide variety of pectoral crosses that Pope Benedict XVI wore resulted in no expenditures and that he was simple rotating through an existing large papal collection (or as Rocco Palmo calls it — Benedict’s “bling box”). No doubt, most of those crosses were given to Benedict or previous popes as gifts.

  13. It could very well be that Pope Francis’ use of the JPII pastoral staff was a singular occasion, especially since the were rededicating the piazza. Withholding, judgement, however difficult, is the best course of action.

    1. @Eric Styles – comment #34:

      It could very well be that Pope Francis’ use of the JPII pastoral staff was a singular occasion, especially since the were rededicating the piazza.

      Francis continued to use it today when he went to Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls

  14. By the way, I happen to think that the staff made for B16 was not only quite beautiful, but also tasteful, not ostentatious.

  15. Barry Moorhead : @James Murphy – comment #5: But I am more concerned about the staff he will gather around him. The two episcopal appointments this morning, with their ties to Lincoln, NE, are disconcerting.

    Not to me, they’re not.

  16. The crucifix of Paul VI is now a 2nd class relic, having been used by Bl John Paul II. It should be placed somewhere for veneration by the faithful, perhaps near his tomb.

  17. Roughly 50 years ago to the day, America Magazine published an article that highlights some of the above issues in terms of what a papal staff is a sign of – the context is a reply to Evelyn Waugh’s dismissal of Vatican II as *cant or novelty*:

    http://conciliaria.com/2013/04/a-thought-for-the-interim/#more-2324

    Highlights:
    – “Mr. Waugh localizes the Council in the history of salvation: the balloon of universality is punctured; the wave of ecumenism is asked, politely, to subside. Pope John’s choice of the first Pentecost, and not the First Vatican Council, as the proper frame of reference for our present expectations goes unmentioned. Mr. Waugh’s point of departure is, in fact, inaccurate.”
    – “… thinks to garb himself solemnly in the sacred robes of the “traditionalist.” In reality, he becomes the spokesman for what Chesterton once called “the tyranny of those who happen to be walking about.” Tradition, as the Church understands it and as Chesterton explained it, is the fullest possible extension of democracy. People who happen to be dead get a vote, too. The age of the apostles is the basic norm: hence, the necessary preoccupation with antiquity. The modern era (the one to which the Church here and now has the serious obligation of addressing herself intelligibly and effectively) is the current terminus”
    – “If, for example, liturgy is viewed merely as a domestic convention prevailing among the saved, then one may argue that it should be left untouched lest these same saved be unduly disturbed. If, on the contrary, liturgy is taken to be an integral part of an outward-oriented Church—and the function par excellence of such a Church—then the need to render it appealing to those outside, as well as more inspiring to those within, will be viewed as a very pressing need.”

    Funny how we tend to repeat history.

  18. A first reading of the heading to this string can be confusing for the pastoral staff who worked for Paul VI must have long since gone to their reward. Then I understood the basis of my error. Must be the consequence of managing schools for 24 years where the term “staff” has only one meaning and there were never enough of them.

    1. @Chris McDonnell – comment #41:
      Chris, my friend did a double take too, when he saw what I was reading.

      It reminds me of that infamous “Crow’s Ear” debacle of the NYT-IHT around John-Paul II’s funeral….

  19. John Kohanski : The crucifix of Paul VI is now a 2nd class relic, having been used by Bl John Paul II. It should be placed somewhere for veneration by the faithful, perhaps near his tomb.

    Is that so? Did John Paul II use Paul’s crozier or was there a duplicate made for just for him?

  20. Fr. Jack, tho’ I think we should all rethink stereotyping all bishops, including Rome’s, via whatever lens purpose and device fits our purpose. To decry Bruskewitz in the liturgical arena draws attention away from the positive rise in vocations he oversaw. Bp. Jackels’ pedigree has ties to not only Bp. Fabian but also Olmstead. Olmstead, btw, is another, along with Vigneron, Chaput, George (in his way) and hopefully Soto, Gomez and Ochoa in California that you might watch with more than one lens gadget.

    1. @Charles Culbreth – comment #45:

      A positive rise in vocations in itself means nothing, Indeed, as one commentator said, in some places the increase in numbers being ordained may mean nothing more than additional weirdos in the priesthood. I note that Pope Francis has said with regard to the clergy sexual abuse phenomenon that a more rigorous selection and discernment is required, not less rigorous, and one corollary to that statement would be that we should be ordaining fewer (but better) priests than we currently are.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #50:

        Paul, I hope “a more rigorous selection and discernment” will be applied to episcopal appointments as well.

      2. @Paul Inwood – comment #51:
        “A positive rise in vocations in itself means nothing, Indeed, as one commentator said, in some places the increase in numbers being ordained may mean nothing more than additional weirdos in the priesthood.”
        With respect to both Paul’s response above, and Bill’s earlier, I think you have both proved my point which you both seem to have missed. That point was not to assess a person’s viability by a single criterion. And it’s both ironic and disturbing that you both thought I was doing just that by the example I mentioned. And Paul, “additional weirdos in the priesthood,” really? I wouldn’t have imagined you uttering such a misanthropic statement in a public forum. Sigh….

      3. @Charles Culbreth – comment #57:

        Charles, it is not my phrase but a commentator’s. Nevertheless, I find that it is what a lot of people are thinking. I frequently hear people saying “The Church doesn’t need priests that badly” when referring to the excesses of some freshly-ordained seminarian who is still wet behind the ears and yet thinks he has the fullness of the truth.

        My point is that it is not the number of vocations that counts but the quality of vocations. I think there has been a clear decline in the quality of ordinands in the past decades, even though some good men are still (thank God) making it through what is in most places a dysfunctional system (we discussed this in another thread). Some dioceses are still intent on ordaining virtually anyone who presents himself, in order to keep the numbers up, while others, such as Buenos Aires, have had a much more rigorous discernment process in place for some time now.

      4. @Gerard Flynn – comment #62:
        Gerard, it’s painfully obvious we’ve never been BFF’s (best friends forever) on this forum, and it’s admirable that you’ve chosen to be Paul’s wingman. But as a (former?) seminarian, are you also totally comfortable painting a portrait of all your worldwide peers with what Bill rightly called such a wide brush?

  21. Charles – good point but you are using only one lense to view this situation and Bruskewitz. To only see him through either vocation increases or liturgy is probably a disservice. Would seriously question his enlarging and investing in a free standing seminary in Lincoln, NE basically around the year 2000. Would suggest that at this time of shrinking numbers of seminaries; financial needs, fewer and fewer trained/qualified/educated staff; and the current USCCB seriously looking at determining a few, designated, regional seminaries (goal -to provide good education, formation, and ministry development) and freeing up individual diocesan clerical personnel or trained professors so that they can meet the local needs of the diocese/archdiocese. If every diocese built and staffed their own seminary, it would be irresponsible and a poor use of both clerical and lay staff.
    Need to also give this some time (it is barely15 years old); note that there is a difference between counting seminarians and actual ordinations; they continue to send men to Rome for theology and advanced degrees; what will be the impact and actual experience of these men from Bruskewitz’s time period by the local church?
    Too often dioceses lose sight of global, universal church needs (other dioceses, partnerships, joint projects e.g. seminaries) and it becomes each parish or diocese for themselves. Another example of this are dioceses that allow each parish to set up their own elementary schools; thus, rich parishes flourish and needy inner city or poor suburban/urban parishes lose out – the sense of shared community is sacrificed on the altar of individual parishes.

    Bruskewitz is retired; yet to see if Conley will not be more in the center in terms of his leadership? George – on the way out; replacement yet to be named – so who knows? Vigneron, Chaput, Olmsted – sorry; continued *culture war* bishops that act more like US Evangelical ministers than catholic bishops.

    And also, just took this seminary rector; now he is the new Fargo bishop? No pastoral experience – worked in the CDW for 8 years and then the seminary; now a bishop. Really?

    1. (My previous comment didn’t appear for some reason)

      @Bill deHaas – comment #46:

      And also, just took this seminary rector; now he is the new Fargo bishop? No pastoral experience – worked in the CDW for 8 years and then the seminary; now a bishop. Really?

      Bill, that’s false. Msgr. Folda didn’t work for the CDW and served as a pastor of two Churches and as a parochial vicar.

  22. I’m puzzled by Jack Rakosky’s repeated attempt at distinguishing *cane* from *walking stick*, when the latter is simply normal British usage for the more common American word, as in:

    elevator : lift
    escalator : moving staircase
    inventory : stock-taking
    cane : walking stick

    1. @Roger Evans – comment #52:
      In American usage, they tend to differ: a cane is usually bent so that the hand is atop it – a walking stick is a straight staff, nowadays more typically taller than a cane so that the hand grips its sides rather than top (the latter being more formal attire less common in use with the general decline in formal accessories in the States).

  23. Samuel – you are correct – confused him with the founding monsignor of St. Gregory’s. He was pastor of a large parish for four years while also working at the chancery & teaching at catholic high schools (not unusual in smaller dioceses). He also served as parochial assistant upon ordination for two years.

  24. Charles – I did not judge him; actually stated that there could be multiple criteria and need to be. What I did respond to was your one criteria (increased vocations) which Paul also responded to in order to provide an example of balancing. Nothing more than that…and yes, tried to avoid caricaturing the candidates/style of that seminary – OTOH, let’s see what happens as I said – it will take some time. Have you experienced any JPII newly ordained priests? It can be a *jarring* experience that creates much *angst*. And, yes, not trying to paint all with one brush stroke – you find all kinds of JPII priests.

  25. Dennis Smolarski SJ : Re: pastoral staffs, has anyone reflected on the crozier Pope Francis used in Argentina — see http://www.trbimg.com/img-1363207071/turbine/chi-frances00pres-20130313/768 Note the miter and pectoral cross are the same as we’ve seen recently! (Also notice the blue vestments!) Who knows what new ferula we might see in Rome!

    If the pope wears blue, who are we to argue?! As far as I’m concerned, it has the green light! 🙂

    Roses are red…violets are blue -so should the vestments in Advent be too!

  26. Granted, Paul, you were not the author of the offensive comment, but you have some culpability in that without citing the commentator’s identity, uttering in public its specious indictment, and then defending its sentiment with unspecified charges of incompetency, save your defense of HHF’s former bishopric, remains a disingenuous excuse without merit. Why not retract your association with an acknowledgment and return to civil and legitmate argument?
    And, while you’re at it, consider that article about hospitatlity and choosing appropriate worship music of almighty God? And let’s be specific with it, no generalities nor condecension muddying up the principles being advanced and defended.

  27. Am I the only one who has noticed that when Francis ‘reverts’ to something, it is a Good Thing, as opposed to it almost always having been a Bad Thing when Benedict ‘reverted’ to something? One wouldn’t, though, want to suggest that there may be a liberal dose of quite subjective and biased judgment in display.

    1. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #64:
      MJO – well there’s no great mystery you’ve uncovered here, except that people come to different judgments. ‘Tis always so. And since we’re all human, all our judgments on all sides have something “subjective and biased” about them.

      Of course people differ about which things are good reversions and which aren’t. I think it’s a Good Thing to revert to traditions of collegiality and synodal government from the first millennium, or to revert to the liturgical simplicity of the first few centuries of Christianity, or to revert to the reformist ethos of Paul VI. I think it’s unfortunate to revert to the pomp and circumstance of the Counter-Reformation era and to revive symbols associated with centralizing popes between Vatican I and Vatican II. So of course I think that Francis’ reversions are wonderful, and that Benedict’s were questionable and unfortunate.

      It has been observed that most if not all reformers seek to revert (at least in part) to earlier eras. The era(s) they draw on says much about whether they’re understood to be liberal or radical or traditionalist or conservative reformers.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #66:
        Thanks for the retort. I do agree with you more than I disagree, though I do believe that Benedict was rather unfairly and undeservedly ‘ridden’. While actually thinking that the infamous fanon is a rather tacky bit of vesture, I otherwise think Benedict’s choices of vesture more pleasing and apt than the ordinariness of Francis’, some of which look like he got them off the rack at a local Catholic church goods store. Judiciously re-getting in touch with some aspects of earlier Church governance is also commendable, but isn’t, I think, always a necessarily beneficial desideratum. The cautionary stance with regard to antiquarian leanings extends to antiquarianism in these matters as well. (Too, we remember that one of the objectives of the XVI. century reformers was to ‘get back to the early church’, and look where it got them.) Benedict was rather unique with his liturgical message and may be more kindly judged by history than he was in his time. My fond wish is that we could have Benedict and Francis all rolled in to one. But, alas!

  28. I’m waiting to see if Pope Francis reverts to the practice of receiving holy communion from the hands of a deacon. That would be something major, IMO.

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